Advanced Technology for Large Structural Systems
A National Engineering Research Center


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Lehigh University’s Advanced Technology for Large Structural Systems (ATLSS) Engineering Research Center, under the direction of Joseph T. Stuart Professor of Structural Engineering Richard Sause, Ph.D., P.E, is a national center for research and education on structures and materials of the infrastructure. Established in May 1986 under the direction of emeritus faculty John W. Fisher, Ph.D., P.E., with a grant as part of the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Engineering Research Center (ERC) program, the Center now addresses the research goals of the NSF, the United States Department of Transportation, the United States Department of Defense, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and numerous additional national, state, and local industry and government organizations and agencies.  Significant research has been performed to develop data on fatigue resistance, fracture resistance, strength evaluation of various components and configurations, proof testing, design verification, high performance materials, and product evaluation for a wide variety of transportation structures.

Materials including high performance steel and concrete, stainless steels and fiber reinforced polymers (FRP) have been studied.  Structural components including, but not limited to, suspender ropes, suspension cables, anchor bolts, expansion joints, orthotropic decks, prestressed concrete box beams, bearings, reinforcing bars and composite column jackets have been evaluated.  Significant research has also been conducted on the in-service behavior of major structures and structural components.  The results of previous research at the ATLSS Center are reflected in all of the major design codes, including AASHTO, AISC, AWS and AREMA.  Approximately 80 people, including graduate and undergraduate students, research associates, staff, and faculty members representing disciplines important to large structural systems are active at the Center.

ATLSS has excellent research facilities and equipment, including two world-class structural testing facilities, the ATLSS Multi-Directional Experimental Testing Laboratory and the Fritz Engineering Laboratory, where researchers study large-scale structural subassemblies under static, dynamic, and/or cyclic multi-directional loading with complete computer-controlled experimentation.  A recent grant from the NSF created the Real-Time Multi-Directional (RTMD) Equipment Site for large-scale simulation of earthquake effects on structures as part of NSF’s George E. Brown, Jr. Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES). The Center also operates the ATLSS Infrastructure Monitoring Program, which is internationally recognized as a leader in the field testing and evaluation of bridges and related structures. The program developed over the last three decades, primarily under the direction of emeritus faculty John W. Fisher, Ph.D., P.E. and Ben T. Yen, Ph.D., on bridges and other transportation structures throughout the United States.  ATLSS also has outstanding resources for computing, mechanical testing, welding, metallography, senor technologies, and non-destructive evaluation, amongst others. 

The ATLSS Engineering Research Center facilitates broad programs of study and research in the fields of structures and materials. Graduate students in the Center’s programs receive master of science, master of engineering, or doctor of philosophy degrees, usually with a focus on structural engineering, materials science and engineering, or mechanical engineering.  Financial support for graduate students is available by means of fellowships and research assistantships related to sponsored research programs.  Undergraduates participate in the Center’s research through summer internships and academic-year special projects.  The Center has also organized international technical conferences with several different technical focuses, including bridge maintenance, safety, and management, fatigue and fracture of the infrastructure, and behavior of steel structures in seismic areas.

The Center also administers the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) funded Pennsylvania Infrastructure Technology Alliance (PITA) and Research for Advanced Manufacturing in Pennsylvania (RAMP) programs designed to provide economic benefit to Pennsylvania through knowledge transfer, the discovery of new technologies, and the retention of highly educated students.